My Volunteer Experience with teenage girls in Buenos Aires, Argentina
My volunteer experience really began before I even started my work. I decided to volunteer in Buenos Aires, Argentina to improve my Spanish and give back to the world. I think that this is something that is very important for everyone, especially young people to do in their lives. I prepared for volunteering at the project by spending some time living in the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina and exploring everything that it has to offer. It is full of food, such as great steak, and culture, such as the famous MALBA Museum. I also prepared by studying Spanish at AMAUTA Spanish School and what I learned was very useful as a volunteer!
Now, I have been working for four weeks at an Hogar for girls between 10 and 20. It was very challenging work and I enjoyed it a lot. I would have liked to stay longer. Just when you feel that the girls are starting to trust you it is time to say goodbye. There are about 20 girls living at the hogar for various reasons. Some do not know their parents because they left them behind when they were little and some have parents that cannot or do not want to take care of them. Also, some were abused and some lived on the street before coming to the hogar. There are also some of them who are mentally disabled. A few girls had just arrived and others had been there for several years.
The first day was a bit difficult to be honest. Everything is new!Most of the girls were very quiet and suspicious. To see how the girls live and what problems they have had to face in their pasts is really moving. A tip: In Argentina you give everyone a kiss every time you come and every time you leave. I really like this custom because it helps to develop closeness from the beginning.
I had planned a few things to do with the girls – however it is very hard to motivate them. But I think that sometimes it is only important that somebody actually cares about them. I really liked them a lot! Of course there are cohabitants, psychologists and social workers working there but to give each girl sufficient attention is almost impossible and I think this is where volunteers can actually make a difference. Together with other volunteers we painted the walls in the courtyard with the girls and we made a little path in the garden.
We also did some shopping and I also played a lot of cards with them – UNO – some of them started to like it so much that they always wanted to play it. It was great to see that some girls that at first could not play the game without help really learned it well. I also painted with them, played memory, studied English, watched television, watched them dance, made a picnic, made friendship bracelets, ate ice cream, talked about boys and just spent time with them. All in all I really enjoyed the work with the girls and I hope you will too!